Jail Bharo! BJP Quit India!
The left and democratic organisations across India had given the call for “Jail Bharo” and “BJP Quit India” on the anniversary of the historic Quit India movement of 1942 against the then colonial government.
The woes of the rural working class has only exacerbated under the rule of the BJP-led NDA Government all across the nation. In addition to this, the situation in West Bengal is all the more precarious due to the gagging of democratic space by the Trinamool Congress led state government. The recently concluded Panchayat elections in West Bengal has witnessed the worst state sponsored oppression of opposition parties and deprivation of lakhs of bona fide rural voters from exercising their right to vote. Such has been the immensity of the terror unleashed by the TMC led government that no opposition party could field candidates in 34% seats in the three tier panchayat elections. The said matter is now sub judice before the apex court and the declaration of results in these 34% seats have been stayed vide an order of the court. In this backdrop and the fast worsening agrarian economy all over the nation, the call was given for mass civil disobedience on 9th August. The trade unions have supported the call and the CITU units had actively participated with the agricultural workers and farmers at all district headquarters in todays’ programme. They had pitched their long standing demand of equal pay for equal work, a minimum wage of Rs. 18000 per month and a pension of Rs. 3000 per month for all retired workers.
Almost all the states have witnessed united action of workers and peasants today, actively supported by youth and student organisations. The women’s organisations too and particularly the AIDWA had joined the civil disobedience action today. The spiralling price of the essential commodities have hit the kitchens hard and the perceptible increase in violence against women all across the nation as a direct result of the obscurantist politics of the right reactionary forces controlling the central government has only worsened the lot of the Indian women. The recent uncovering of the heinous crimes against the juvenile inmates of shelter home in Bihar under the patronage of the husband of a BJP minister had shocked the conscience of the entire nation. West Bengal has yet again topped the list of states in terms of crimes against women.
After idling away four years of its tenure, the NDA government in a knee jerk reaction has only recently increased the procurement prices of food grains, which falls far short of the recommendations of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan. While claiming that it has met with the recommendations, the reality is that the cost of production has been lowered than the actuals in the statistics of the government, as a result of which the Minimum Support Price fixed for the agricultural products fall short of the needs. It is noted that Dr. Swaminathan has been vocal in lending his support for the civil disobedience action held today.
News of farmers, workers, students and youth courting arrest today had started to come since early in the day. Despite the hostile attitude of the BJP-led state governments, the programme of civil disobedience went on in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh. In Rajasthan, the farmers were already on boil due to the high handedness of the state government in meeting with their legitimate demands. The womenfolk had noticeable presence in the programme today at Rajasthan. Despite the active hostility of the administration in Gwalior, Bhind, Morena, workers and peasants participated in large numbers today in “jail bharo” movement today. The dairy farmers too had supported the call today as they have been severely affected by opening of the Indian dairy market to Australian and New Zealander multinational corporations as also by the severe curtailment on the cattle trade in the name of “Gau Raksha”. In total, the call was supported across 400 districts in the nation and was participated by around 1.5 million people. Approximately seven thousand demonstrators were arrested at Chattisgarh today, several thousands in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. CPIM Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat was arrested at Jaipur while leading the demonstration at the office of the District Magstrate. At Agartala, the protestors broke through the barricades and could not be held back by water cannons and lathi charge. Manik Sarkar, a member of the Polit Bureau of CPIM and the erstwhile Chief Minister of Tripura led the procession at Agartala and courted arrest with thousands of agitators. At Bangalore, police forcefully resisted the demonstrators. The office of District Magistrate of Pune witnessed mass demonstration. A significant part of the all India leadership of the left and democratic movements courted arrest at Delhi today while demonstrating at Sansad Marg.
In Bengal, the call gained tremendous support across all the districts. The workers of the tea gardens in the districts of North Bengal had already declared a three day strike against the inhuman living conditions at the tea estates and the farce that was meted out to them in the name of wage hike by the state government. The peasants in general voiced their grievance against the state government’s callous public procurement policies and the dominance of the middlemen backed by the TMC led government in marketing agricultural products at the expense of the cultivators. The process of reversion of gains made under “Operation Barga”, eviction of sharecroppers and even the pattadars, forceful centralization of agricultural land in the hands of the rural elites, fixing of procurement prices much below the level that was recommended by Swaminathan Commission, dismal implementation of REGA schemes, blatant violation of Food Security Act, have angered significant part of the peasantry in Bengal which showed today. The educational institutions in Bengal have been witnessing tremendous student unrest for the past couple of months. The successful united actions on the part of the student organizations across Jadavpur University, Presidency University, Calcutta Medical College and the ongoing agitation at the Gani Khan Chowdhury Institute of Engineering and Technology at Maldah had created the background for the students to participate in large numbers in todays’ demonstrations. The youth have been betrayed by the state government in its promise of employment generation. The admission tests to the post of teachers in primary and secondary schools run by the government have witnessed brazen corruption and nepotism, leaving a large section of the youth deprived. The dismal state of industrialisation under the present state government largely due to its policy failures and the rampant extortions by the TMC, has lowered the scope of employment even for the educated youth and skilled workers.
At Purulia, Raiganj, Asansol, Diamond Harbour, West Midnapore, West Burdwan and Kolkata, police had resorted to brutal lathi charge to disperse the peaceful protestors. At Kolkata, students and youth in support of the peasants and workers had managed to reach the gates of the Raj Bhavan and had hoisted the Red flags thereat. 19 activists were arrested for the said action who had to be released later under tremendous public pressure of a roaring mass which had assembled there! At Diamond Harbour, hooligans backed by the TMC had hurled bombs at the vehicle carrying Dr. Sujan Chakrabarty, MLA and leader of the Left Legislative Group in the Assembly. Activists and participants to the programme were attempted to be stopped from reaching the assembly points jointly by the police and the miscreants backed by TMC. Despite the open hostility of the state administration the masses assembled and carried on their demonstration. Hundreds of protestors were arrested today in the state. Some of the demonstrators were seriously wounded by the police lathi charge and miscreants affiliated to the ruling party. Thousands of activists have been arrested from ech of the districts in the state. Such has been the magnitude of particiapation that the police had to release thousands of agitators due the paucity of jail spaces to accommodate them! At West Midnapore district, the demonstrators had moved into the DM’s office when they were subjected to brutal lathi charge in which several demonstrators including the district secretary of the SFI were badly injured.
The sheer mood of the “jail bharo” mobilization today has surely sent across the message to the state and central government today that the people across religion, caste and gender are fast uniting against their anti-people policies and even the corporate media in Bengal and elsewhere in the nation have been forced to acknowledge this today.